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What Germany Says, Germany Means

Unlike the United Kingdom, where political sensibility can quash the most logical enactment of energy policy, plans for progress voiced so tentatively you can bearly feel a ripple, or hear it over the whispering swoosh of a new wind turbine blade, over in Deutschland, what they say, they intend to happen, and they’re making serious proposals about how that’s going to be done :-,1518,716221,00.html

“09/07/2010 : Green Visions : Merkel’s Masterplan for a German Energy Revolution : By Stefan Schultz : Giant windparks, insulated buildings, electric cars and a European supergrid: the German government on Monday unveiled an ambitious but vague blueprint to launch a new era of green energy for Europe’s largest economy. SPIEGEL ONLINE has analyzed the plans…”

It appears to be time to wave bye-bye to German coal, incidentally, even as a strong commitment to renewable, sustainable energy is put on the table.

I wish the British Government could take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror of the future and realise what a bunch of dithering duffers they appear to be.

What we need is a proper Energy Policy, chaps, and since you’re in the hot seat you better come up with it. Elected or not, our ministers and officials need to get up out of their deep leather chairs, extinguish their pipes, don their working breeches and get digging for Britain, and I don’t mean Shale Gas or Old Coal.

Matt Phillips of the Claverton Energy Research Forum, had this to note :-

“Last week the German government released its major conclusions of a review of energy policy in its Energiekonzept. If your German is up to scratch, here it is:

“Some major highlights of interest in the UK are:”

“1 CO2 targets affirmed: Germany firmly commits to a 40% by 2020 CO2 reduction target.”

“2 Grid and 80% RES: Germany now commits to very high levels of RES and much greater integration of Germany into the European grid. Germany’s RE electricity targets are now: 35% by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040, 80% by 2050. It also has a very substantial set of plans around grid expansion and integration in Europe. This would have implications for the rest of the European grid – as if Germany looks for greater integration this would have a major impact on grid across Northern Europe. Germany sees offshore wind as a major growth area with a substantial investment/incentives plan to make it so. The Energiekonzept proposes a €5bn loan scheme for the first ten German offshore wind projects, guarantees to cover losses, support to build specialist vessels, special offshore FIT design and improvements in permitting arrangements. The loan scheme will be financed by KfW – the government bank (equivalent of the Green Investment Bank proposed in the UK – but with major question marks at the moment over the extent of its capitalisation).”

“3 Financing: Germany has committed to recycling its €2bn ETS auction revenues for energy efficiency, renewable innovation and climate adaptation. In addition, the proposed life extension of existing nuclear will be accompanied by a windfall tax on the utilities that will benefit as a result. This €2.3bn tax will also be used explicitly for advancing renewables.”

(Note : none of the ETS auction revenues are proposed for Carbon Capture and Storage, unlike European-level statements on ambition that have been made previously).

“4 Energy Efficiency It calls for halving Germany’s primary energy consumption until 2050 (base year 2008), for doubling the yearly rate of modernisation of buildings (1% to 2%) and for an emissions standard for ALL buildings. And it proposes some instruments in order to reach these targets: An efficiency fund (€500m per year), tax exemptions, monetary incentives for energy management systems for industry, a pilot programme on white certificates, investment incentives for house owners, etc”

“Much of the media and political focus in Germany is the row over nuclear life-extension which has overwhelmed the rest of the content. But it is worth noting that in terms of the reaction, many on the renewable industry side fear nuclear life extension will chill new investment in RES. However it is also important to note the situation with new coal projects in Germany. Ten projects were given permissions more than three years ago and most of those are now under construction. There were 25 other projects in planning. In the last two years 15 of those have been abandoned. It is quite likely that the 10 in the planning pipeline would be affected by nuclear life extension. All of these are anyway are facing substantial public opposition.”

“On coal/CCS the Energiekonzept suggests there will be three commercial scale CCS projects by 2020 – two on coal plants and one on industrial emissions. It is worth noting that progress on this has proved very hard in Germany and the obstacles may not have been overcome just through this declaration of intent. In addition there is a proposal for a regulation to phase out inefficient coal. On the whole the ECF analysis is that the Energiekonzept has not delivered a coal/CCS policy that is sustainable as it does not grapple with the challenges of having a firm pathway for CCS on the plants being built now and nor does it remove the risk of unabated-coal-lock-in. But it is a helpful policy direction to open up the timetable for phasing out ‘old’ coal. As a footnote to this issue, you may not have seen recent comments by RWE that it is pulling out of all new coal projects as coal is uneconomic. While this was only announced in Germany, last week RWE pulled out of a new coal project in Poland.

“The Energiekonzept is a proposal. It is perceived in Germany as a ‘centre right’ positioning on the issues. But it is important to understand that the mainstream consensus in Germany is now that the future is large scale RES. There is no political constituency in Germany calling for new nuclear plants. The Energiekonzept will almost certainly be subject to legal challenge and the proposals underneath it will be introduced in legislation or policy and so controversial measures will face political challenge.”

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